Indeed, through three innings the River Kings had five runs and just one hit. They added the final run of the inning on a wild pitch.”
Clinton pushed the lead to 7-0 an inning later on a hit, two walks, another error that scored a run and an RBI single by Henricks.
Bettendorf started to chip away after that, scoring one run each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but by then it was too late.
“That run support was key,” Clinton freshman left-hander Cole Pennock said. “That was the number one thing that I loved about this game.”
Pennock wasn’t at his best – he issued two four-pitch walks in the first two innings.
“I actually didn’t have my best stuff,” he said. “On those walks on four pitches I was overthrowing because of the big game, all the pressure and everything.”
If the run support was No. 1 for Pennock, the defense behind him had to be a close second.
The first two Bettendorf batters reached base in the bottom of the first, but a 6-4-3 double play got Pennock out of trouble. He helped himself in the second by spearing a line drive and starting another double play. And the Bulldogs threatened again in the third with a leadoff single and a two-out hit batter.
That time, third baseman Caldwell made a diving stop to rob Matt Albert of a hit down the line, got up and dived again to touch third base for the inning-ending forceout.
“It was a good hit, and I made a good play, and once we got the out, the lost their mental toughness,” Caldwell said.
“Dustin Caldwell, to me that was the play of the game; that was huge,” Cunningham said. “That kept the momentum with us.”
Clinton athletic director Gary Lueders, who had been chatting with Cunningham after the game, added, “I was watching Jay (Fitzgerald, Bettendorf’s coach), and he kind of just dropped his head and turned.”